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sent.* The father then took the flat cakes of the unleavened bread, brake them, and divided them among the family, who dipped them in the liquor of the bitter herbs. Lastly, with thanks and blessings, they ate of the flesh of the paschal lamb.
After all had partaken, a second cup was passed round, and so on to a third, a fourth, and even sometimes a fifth, divided from sach other by songs of praise, usually the 113th and 114th psalms from the beginning; the 115-118th. after the third cup of blessing : winding up the whole, with the psalms from the 120th to the 127, called the great hallelujah. The guests sat long at supper in the enjoyment of kindly feelings to each other, and of religious conversation, in token of the rest they now enjoyed, so different from the haste in which it first was eaten, with loins girded and staffs in their hands, on the night of their departure out of Egypt.
This was the manner in which the passover was kept while our Lord abode on earth ; and if we carefully compare it with the accounts of the four writers of the Gospels, we shall see how, while He observed all its peculiar ceremonies, He made it to express a deeper meaning. In fact he brought out the highest truths it had but shadowed forth, and we see in this last passover, the Jewish church, in the very act of moving away before the Church of Christ which was its true fulfilment.
Jesus amongst bis own disciples acted as the head of the family. He left out no part of the usual forms, but to each he gave a deeper, a holier, and as yet a new meaning. We shall see this in each particular as we read the account in the gospels.
Behold Jesus and his disciples at the table ! Alas! we are * The bitterness of the herbs showed forth the suffering of the Jews in the Egyptian bondage; and the thick sauce of pressed fruits was intended to represent the clay, of which they made the bricks for the task-masters. There is an interesting and minute account of all that was said and done at the Feast of the Passover by the Jews of old, in the Biblical Cyclopædia, taken from the Talmud and other writings of the Rabbins.
painfully reminded of the imperfection of all human things, even in this small family circle of which Christ was the head. The first cup had scarcely been given round when the holy peace that should have filled each bosom there, was disturbed by
Verse 24. “A strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.'
Perhaps this strife was occasioned by the apostle John being placed next the Lord Jesus, as we shall find he was. The other apostles might remember with some jealousy the petition of his mother, that he and his brother James, the two sons of Zebedee, might sit, the one on his right hand and the other on his left, in his kingdom. Jesus shewed them how low their ambition was.
It might suit heathen princes, but it was unworthy even of the lowliest of His disciples :
Verses 25, 26. “He said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so : but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth ? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.”
This He was about to show them by actually waiting upon them, but before he gave them in his own example a striking lesson of the humility with which his followers must be content to pass through life, he held up to their eyes the crown that waited for them in that world to which their life is but the passage. Here, for the love of Him, they must be content to serve; there they would reign, for their love would find its full enjoyment, no check, no strife, no shadow of disappointment there.
Verses 28–30. “Ye are they (said He to them,) which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me : That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Here again, are mysterious words which seem to tell of a greater likeness between the manner of life of the saints in glory and of the saints on earth, than we are apt to suppose possible; and it is well that we should consider them, for there is a remarkable difference between the common ideas men have of heaven, and those which the words of our Lord would justify. There is a reality in all He says, strikingly different from the vague fancies men have of a home of clouds, and a life of songs. From Him we learn that His disciples there will carry on with active love the offices of his kingdom, sharing with him his royal glory. Oh ponder this, ye who read and hear these lines. Do ye sometimes think it hard that in this life ye are made but little account of,—that others no better than yourselves pass you by? Care not for it. It must be so ; the world will only serve those who serve the world, and ye have not two hearts to give. Serve God and your time will come ; continue with Christ in his temptations, and He “will appoint you a kingdom," that will satisfy the longings of the soul which is ever reaching after the highest good.
The proud thirst of glory was mine from my birth,
But what can this world to ambition display ;
A spirit of fire in a prison of clay.
And now I have heard of a nobler crown,
A kingdom unfading, a glory divine ;
And how shall that kingdom of glory be mine?
ON THE INSTITUTION OF THE HOLY SACRAMENT AT THE
Jesus having shown for a moment to his disciples the brightness of their prospects beyond this world, turned back their thoughts to the duties that lay immediately before them. If they would reign with him hereafter, they must work with Him
Let them cease all strife, as to “which was to be greatest," and consider well his example, that they might follow it. He rose from supper-all must have perceived that he had some design in this, and with fixed attention they must have watched each movement as he
John xiii. 4, 5. “laid aside his garment : and took a towel and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.”
Judas Iscariot was one of them, “the devil having put it into his heart to betray him.”
What must have been his feelings when he saw the Lord thus demean Himself? Was this the King of Israel, in whose court he had hoped to rise to wealth and power ? Girded with a towel, washing the feet of his disciples as a slave might do ! So feels the heart that seeks only this world's goods; there is no room in it for the love of Christ; therefore to suffer for His sake is odious, and the humility He teaches contemptible.
It seems that last of all Jesus came to Peter. Secretly he had watched his Lord washing and wiping the feet of his com
panions. It is written of Jesus that he did so “knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God,"* and Peter believed all this. Though as yet infirm of purpose, and uncertain what he was to expect from the Messiah's kingdom, yet his love was true, his loyalty sincere. There was no thought of self in his attachment to his Lord, except the thought of his unworthiness; and when Jesus came to him, he said unto him,
Verse 6, 7. “ Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter."
How often through life do these words of Christ come to mind! Things do not take the turn we expected. We are disappointed and perplexed : to us also, Jesus says—“What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter." Let us wait in patient faith. Peter could not brook the sight of what seemed to him a lowering of his Master's dignity, and he saith unto Him,
Verses 8. “Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part in me,”
Then Peter's mind changed at once. Full of love and real he cried out
Verse 9. “Lord ! not my feet only, but also my hands and
He would not have a “part” only in Jesus, but he would be altogether His.
Verses 10, 11. “Jesus saith unto him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him ; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean."
* Verse 3.